Connection, community and commitment – these are the cornerstones of independent retailers. For one North Carolina independent they were a lifeline as he traversed the horrible road of cancer with his wife. Mike Parsons, owner of Mike’s Jewelry in North Wilkesboro, North Carolina (www.michaelsjewelryonline.com) stood with and supported his wife, Vikki, during her two year battle with pancreatic cancer, and it was their staff, customers and community who lifted them up, supported them and helped them get through the toughest times of their lives.
Mike and Vikki met eighteen years ago. They’ve been married for 16 years and for 15 years have worked side-by-side. They’ve spent the last 2 1/2 years battling pancreatic cancer together. They walked together through this terrible journey, but they did not walk alone. Their jewelry store provided the conduit through which their supportive staff, customers and friends showered them with love and encouragement.
It was never a fair fight. From the beginning the diagnosis wasn’t good, but Vikki gambled on an extremely aggressive treatment called the Whipple procedure. The prognosis was positive. Chemo resumed and for several months her numbers were good.
But last July her symptoms returned. Another PET scan showed the reoccurrence of cancer in her lymph nodes. Vikki battled with all of her might. On March 23, 2013, the day she was scheduled to resume chemo, she fell and broke her hip.
It would prove to be the beginning of a steep downhill slide.
Vikki Parsons lost her life to this unyielding, indiscriminate disease on May 1, 2013. Her jewelry family left a written legacy of their journey together. Below are their words chronicling the journey, testifying to the incredible person she was and to the support of her community.
(Abbreviated excerpts from Vikki’s Caringbridge page)
• Written August 12, 2011 10:01 am (1st Entry)
Chemo Round 5 goes to Vikki!
Tuesday Vikki endured another round of chemo. There was some trepidation in the Parsons household for round 5 because rounds 1-4 had gotten more difficult each time. But, happy surprise! Her tumor/cancer markers have decreased dramatically. The chemo is apparently doing a little ka-ra-tay on the tumor. Take THAT, you damned tumor! Next step, can we hope for upgrade from ‘marginally operable’ to just ‘operable’? That’s what to pray for now!
• Written September 13, 2011 9:18 pm
The news from the surgeon at UNC-Chapel Hill Hospital: Prepare for surgery! Wednesday night Mike and Vikki will travel to Chapel Hill to ready Vikki for surgery Thursday morning at 7:30.
• Written September 15, 2011 7:55 am
Today is the day
Vikki and I were strolling around the hotel last night (before surgery tomorrow) discussing this whole experience. Vikki turned to me and said she truly believed it was the power of prayer that had given her the strength to face the on-coming challenges and hopeful remission of this disease.
• Written September 15, 2011 3:06 pm
Surgery is Over!!
Vikki came out of surgery at a little after 3:00 pm. The tumor is gone. I want to remind all that V went from not operable to the tumor is out. Still no ETA on her discharge date. One last personal note to the angels of Michael’s, you guys are the best. It is because of you that I have been able to concentrate on getting Vikki back to health. You are part of our family forever and we love you.
• Written January 21, 2012 1:22 pm
We are very encouraged with the progress Vikki has made. It was not too long ago that we were staring into the abyss; the future seemed not to hold much promise. Through the power of all the prayers, and the encouragement of all, Vikki has been able to cope and push onward. All of us here at the store now wear our pancreatic cancer support bracelets embossed with no truer words; “No One Fights Alone.” She will always be my wonder woman, but all of the rest of you who have kept up with her and shared so much of yourselves, I call you angels.
• Written September 18, 2012 3:15 pm
Since our last post things have changed. In mid-July Vikki started developing mid back pains. We had scans that showed what we had hoped would never be. The cancer has returned in 2 lymph nodes near the area where the original tumor was. She will receive the first round either tomorrow or Thursday. With the grace of God she will endure.
• Written April 6, 2013 11:51 am
Say an extra prayer for Vikki because her battle has become more intense. If anyone can persevere it’s our girl. The road ahead is rocky and I am not sure what the next turn will show, but I do know that Vikki has faith and love of God, love of family, and support and love of friends.
• Written May 1, 2013 4:56 pm
Time for Peace
Vikki had grace. Vikki had style. Vikki had charm. But most recently she showed us just what a fighter she could be. Pancreatic cancer has raged a ruthless war against Vikki for almost two years now and she has fought for every last minute. The battle ended when Vikki passed into peace this morning surrounded by her husband, her sister, and her dear friend who loved her wholly and truly.
• Written May 8, 2013 3:10 pm
A Journey Ends
Vikki, you faced this battle with courage, grace, and determination, the likes of which I have never experienced. Even in the darkest moments you pressed forward and endured. Because of this we were able to share your love and spirit for a longer time. I give thanks to God for your strength. You may have departed your earthly bounds but the gift of who you are will live on in the hearts of the many people you touched, but mostly mine. I love you Vikki.
To the many friends and family who helped Vikki, either with their words of encouragement or their many prayers. Your thoughtfulness is what gave her strength when despair seemed to close in around her. Every week she would show me the cards and messages she received, and as it was her way, with a great deal of humility. She spoke often of how she wanted to reach out and embrace each and every one, if nothing more than to say thank you for thinking of me. Even as the end of her journey neared, the hosts of prayers went up. As hard as it was for me to see her go, I know in my heart that she has found peace, and the pain is no more and she dwells in the house of the Lord.
Mike Parsons intends to take the tributes and messages left on Vikki’s Caringbridge site (www.caringbridge.org/visit/vikkiparsons) and create a book for her 8 year old granddaughter Sydney. Many people wrote directly to Sydney of her grandmother’s bravery, compassion and her beautiful soul.